Last Sunday, in the USA Weekend section of the newspaper there is an article about a woman in Pennsylvania who saved thousands of dollars last year by clipping coupons. I saw it on the cover and thought, "oh no, here we go again...more talk about these "extreme couponers". I was pleasently surprised at the article!
The article talks about how Allison Mullen, with a family of 5, used to spend $200-$300 a week on groceries and now only spends $100. She does it by clipping coupons and matching them with store sales...period. Yes, you stock up a little (you don't need a stock pile to fill your garage)...that's the whole point of it and she's reasonable about it. She's saving about 50% (or more) on her grocery bill and that's awesome!
I love that they featured someone who is just a smart shopper, not someone who makes all of us look like we are crazy.
The basics from the article:
Wait for a sale! - Know what your low price is for an item and wait for it to get back down to that price. Stock up enough to last you until the next sale so you don't have to buy things at regular price. Getting multiple copies of the newspaper is the best way to do that (or know people who are willing to give you their inserts).
Know your stores: Although it's not always cost effective to drive to multiple stores, if it's convienant for you then it's smart to know which stores have items for least amount and make sure to buy those items there.
Adopt private labels: Be willing to try the store brands on some items. We all have our items that we are brand specific on (I will NOT buy store brand sliced cheese) but some things don't really matter. Try different ones out so you learn what tastes just the same and is cheaper. **my note: if you are really watching the sales and coupons, a lot of the time the name brand can be cheaper. It's just nice to have that back up in case you are in need and there is no sale or coupon available.**
Use your loyalty card: This one is pretty much a no brainer. I never walk into King Soopers or Safeway without my shopper card. Always have them on you or just make sure you know which phone number is attached to your card so you can use it at checkout.
**One more important note from me- make sure you know store coupon policies. King Soopers recently added a 3 coupon per like item policy and they will enforce it. Also, some stores will give you the overage on a coupon (if the coupon value is higher than the item you are buying you can use that money towards the rest of your purchase) but some will just adjust it down. Some will let you use 2 coupons when buying 2 items on a BOGO free sale. Knowing these policies are HUGE when making the most of your coupons (and your money!)**
Remember that I'm here to help if anyone has questions regarding couponing and shopping in general. In the meantime I'd love to hear how you are doing with your shopping. Good luck and happy clipping!